Is there a multiple sclerosis diet, and should people with MS take supplements? Depends on who you talk to.
If there is an MS diet, what foods belong to it? And what supplements might be helpful? Here again, the answer will depend on who you talk to.
Even amongst professionals who specialize in multiple sclerosis matters, there is no consensus.
Some say you should follow a low-fat diet. Others recommend extra omega-3 essential fatty acids, still others say no, you need to major on omega-6 fatty acids. Turn the next corner, and an MS expert will tell you that there is no known advantage to any of them.
Should you eliminate gluten? Maybe.
Should you lean heavily on produce, a la the Wahls diet, or avoid saturated fat as the Swank diet advocates? Perhaps. Or then again, perhaps not.
The more I read on this subject, the more contradicitions and mixed messages I encountered as to what foods are best for someone with MS.
It's apparent that much more research is needed in this area. Meanwhile, there are a few things that are good for anyone, that a person with MS might do well to follow.
Restrict sugar consumption. Drink alcohol in moderation. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoid processed foods. Drink plenty of water.
What about supplements?
Vitamin D supplementation also had both supporters, naysayers and those who just didn't know. Some research has been performed that, while not conclusive, offers some specific data.
Research has indicated that vitamin D could enhance immune system function, and could assist in management of cell differentiation and growth. Vitamin D may delay MS progression, and may also diminish negative brain activity.
Vitamin D is available in fatty fish, as well as in supplement form. The vitamin also is manufactured when time is spent in sunlight.
The Jan. 20, 2014 issue of JAMA online said that according to new research, it may be vital to catch and correct vitamin D deficiency early for those with MS. This was reported in a Jan. 20, 2014 WebMD.com article.
Dr. Alberto Ascherio, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health was lead researcher on the study. Ascherio said that vitamin D levels when MS symptoms first appeared predicted how MS would develop during the next five years.
People with vitamin D levels that were below 50 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) were more prone to new brain lesions, with a more negative prognosis than those with levels higher than 50 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L), he said.
Things are not that clear, according to Nicholas LaRocca, vice president for health care delivery and policy research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"There is no scientific consensus on a treatment protocol. We may get to that point eventually," LaRocca said, as reported by WebMD.com.
Dr. Ellen Mowry, an assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, concurred that it's too soon to come to conclusions.
"We still need to do a randomized clinical trial of vitamin D supplementation to confirm that supplementation improved MS outcomes," she said. Mowry is leading research on multiple sclerosis and vitamin D.
"I think the evidence that vitamin D supplements could help is pretty strong, but we don't know for sure," Mowry said, as reported in a June 18, 2013 article on WebMD.com.
"It is my belief that these trials will help answer the important question of whether it is safe and effective to recommend high-dose vitamin D supplementation to people with MS," Mowry was reported to have said on a Jan. 20, 2014 article on WebMD.com.
Multiple Sclerosis and Diet
Vitamin D May Slow Multiple Sclerosis: Study
MS and Your Diet: Is There a Link?
Ascherio, Alberto MD, DrPH et. al. Vitamin D as an Early Predictor of Multiple Sclerosis Activity and Progression. JAMA Neurol. 2014;71(3):306-314. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.5993. http://archneur.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1815002
Visit Jody's website at http://www.ncubator.ca
Reviewed March 31, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN